Each year, approximately around the time we prepare to celebrate Christmas, our Jewish friends celebrate Hanukkah and it lasts for 8 days.
Hanukkah isn’t one of the mandatory ‘Feasts of the Lord’ of which there are seven;
The mandatory feasts, as we’ve already learned, all point to Jesus Christ, who is the means and agent of salvation for all people, the Jews first and then the Gentiles. They are the prophetic and symbolic presentation of human redemption by God and through the Son. Hanukkah is a celebration of an historical event in Jewish history, in the same way that Purim is also a celebration of an event in Jewish history.
Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Covenant in John 10 and it’s called the Feast of Dedication, but it’s also known as the Festival of Lights. Funnily enough, Christians around the world are gearing up to celebrate Christmas which isn’t mentioned in the New Covenant anywhere. Of course it wouldn’t be mentioned in the Gospels as they’re the historical accounts of the life of Jesus, but in all the epistles of the New Covenant there’s no mention of celebrating the birth of Christ at all.
John 10:22-23, ‘At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter and Jesus was walking in the Temple in the Portico of Solomon.’
Strong’s concordance explains the Feast of Dedication this way; ‘In particular the annual feast celebrated eight days beginning on the 25th of Kislev (which more often than not occurs in the middle of our December), instituted by Judas Maccabaeus (164 BC) in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes.’
The really fascinating thing about Hanukkah however is that this holiday, as I’ve already mentioned, points to a past historical event in Jewish history and it’s very, very important because it also enables us to look forward to a future historical event in Jewish future history just prior to the return of Messiah.
John 10 is the place where Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd and then out of the blue so to speak, the Scripture then says that it was the Feast of Dedication and it was winter. We know that December in Israel is winter time, and shepherds don’t stay outside with their flocks and herds overnight because it’s simply too cold, rather they keep them protected in shelters – usually caves – as was the case 2000 years ago. This is just one of numerous reasons we know Jesus wasn’t really born in December, rather He was probably born around late September, early October when it was still warm and shepherds did keep their flocks out in the open fields at night and they themselves kept them safe.
Why did the Holy Spirit want us to know that it was the Feast of Dedication and that it was winter in John 10? We need to understand that there are no accidents and no superfluous information in the Bible, but every word of it was breathed by God the Holy Spirit and is important for our learning and understanding. When something pops up in Scripture and we don’t know what it means, that’s when we’re supposed to start digging to find out what it’s referring to and what we need to learn from it. That’s when we make incredible discoveries. So what was the Feast of Dedication all about?
Why were there three dedications when there was only two Jewish Temples? Why was there a need for a third dedication? The event that led to the Feast of Dedication is a commemoration of the rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168BC. Antiochus Epiphanes was the leader of the Seleucid Empire and we’ll learn the details of what happened in the next program. That’s when we’ll discover the historical context that led to this annual celebration.